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Your local and regional news for Northeastern Kansas and the surrounding communities, brought to you by the KPR news staff.

Looking for a Job? Get into Dodge for Statewide Job Fair This Month

Job seekers across the state should plan to attend the 2012 Kansas Statewide Job Fair on April 24 in Dodge City. The free job fair is sponsored by KANSASWORKS, the Kansas Economic Development Alliance and the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). More than 75 companies will be represented.

WHEN & WHERE:
2:30-6:30pm, Tuesday, April 24, 2012
United Wireless Arena
4100 Comanche Street
Dodge City, Kansas

The event will be open exclusively to military personnel, military spouses and veterans from 2:30-3:30pm.  The event opens to all participants at 3:30 p.m.

Recruiters from 75 companies across Kansas, many conducting on-site interviews. Private interview rooms will be available. In addition, several community colleges and technical schools will have information about their classes and programs available.

Job seekers are encouraged to dress appropriately for interviews and bring several copies of their resumes. In addition, participants should visit www.KANSASWORKS.com prior to attending the job fair for the latest list of companies attending and positions available. The KANSASWORKS Mobile Center will be on site to help with resume building and career counseling.

Go to www.KANSASWORKS.com and click on the “Job Fairs” link and then click the “Western Kansas” link to access additional information about this event and a list of companies attending. Call KANSASWORKS at 877-509-6757 for more information.


Shelter from the Storm: Did You Know the KS Turnpike Has Tornado Shelters?

A Kansas tornado. (Photo credit: NOAA)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State officials want to remind drivers that nearly 30 public tornado shelters are available along the Kansas Turnpike.  Turnpike spokeswoman Lisa Callahan says most of the shelters are in the restrooms of service areas in Belle Plaine, Towanda, Matfield Green, Emporia, Topeka and Lawrence.  Smaller shelters also are available at the turnpike's toll plazas.  The Wichita Eagle reports most of the shelters are underground. They are accessed by opening a hatch and climbing down a short ladder.  Callahan says at least 20 people can fit comfortably in the smallest shelters, and more if circumstances require it.  Every turnpike toll plaza has a tornado shelter except Tonganoxie/Eudora. There are no storm shelters along I-70 or any highways controlled by the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Regional Headlines for Tuesday, April 10, 2012

 


UPDATE: USDA Secretary Touts Importance of NBAF Project

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that construction of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility near Kansas State University is important for agriculture and the nation's security. After Tuesday's Landon Lecture at K-State, Vilsack said having the proposed $650 million research facility was important. He also said it needed to be located in the Midwest, near agriculture production. Vilsack used his nearly hour-long Landon Lecture to discuss how agriculture helps provide greater economic and energy independence for the U.S. Vilsack planned to attend the afternoon dedication of the U.S. Agriculture Department's modernized Center for Grain and Animal Health Research near the K-State campus. The Landon Lecture series is named for former Kansas Governor Alf Landon, the 1936 Republican presidential nominee.

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Abortion Provider Seeks End to Kansas Criminal Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Defense attorneys are asking a Kansas judge to dismiss the remaining criminal charges against a Kansas City-area Planned Parenthood clinic accused of performing illegal abortions.
Attorney Pedro Irigonegaray said Tuesday that the Planned Parenthood clinic in Overland Park has strong legal arguments for dismissal. Defense attorneys argue the allegations boil down to differences of medical opinion about how abortions were handled. Forty-nine charges against the clinic, including felony counts of falsifying records, were dismissed in November. Fifty-eight remain, concerning 29 abortions performed in 2003. Planned Parenthood attorneys filed multiple requests under seal last month in Johnson County District Court to have the remaining charges dismissed. The Associated Press obtained copies Tuesday, after the judge handling the case unsealed them. Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe declined comment.

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Health Officials: Rabies Cases up 300 Percent in KS

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials say 13 rabies cases have been confirmed so far this year, a 300 percent increase over the same time period last year.  The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says it had only four confirmed rabies cases in the same time period in 2011. Kansas has averaged 68 confirmed cases of rabies a year since 2007.  State health officials have confirmed rabies in a coyote, a raccoon, four skunks, two bats, two horses, two cows, and one cat.  KDHE officials say the cases are most prevalent in skunks. They encourage the public to watch their pets and livestock and be aware of wild animals. And they encourage owners to vaccinate their animals against rabies.

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State Reminds Drivers of Turnpike Storm Shelters

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State officials want to remind drivers that nearly 30 public tornado shelters are available along the Kansas Turnpike.  Turnpike spokeswoman Lisa Callahan says most of the shelters are in the restrooms of service areas in Belle Plaine, Towanda, Matfield Green, Emporia, Topeka and Lawrence.  Smaller shelters also are available at the turnpike's toll plazas. The Wichita Eagle reports most of the shelters are underground. They are accessed by opening a hatch and climbing down a short ladder.  Callahan says at least 20 people can fit comfortably in the smallest shelters, and more if circumstances require it.  Every turnpike toll plaza has a tornado shelter except Tonganoxie/Eudora. There are no storm shelters along I-70 or any highways controlled by the Kansas Department of Transportation.

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KS Gov Protests Regulatory Bills Forced by Feds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has allowed bills changing how Kansas regulates banks and real estate appraisers to become law without his signature.  Brownback says he refused to sign the two measures to protest what he calls federal intrusion into the state's regulation of businesses. Both measures were required for Kansas to comply with a federal law approved by Congress in 2010 to strengthen regulation of the financial system.  One of the bills requires companies that manage groups of appraisers who review properties for decisions on loans to register with the state Real Estate Appraisal Board. Brownback noted the board already regulates individual appraisers.  The other bill makes technical changes in laws dealing with state-chartered banks.  Brownback had opposed the 2010 federal legislation when he served in the U.S. Senate.

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Delay in Kansas Breast Cancer Bill Criticized

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —Some Kansas lawmakers say a political rivalry is holding up a bill designed to improve the diagnosis of breast cancer. The bill would require medical personnel to inform women that their dense breast tissue could hide cancer detection during a mammogram. The measure was unanimously approved in the Senate in February, but has stalled in the House. Critics say it's stalled because Rep. Brenda Landwehr, chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, wants to run later this year against the bill's sponsor, Jean Schodorf. Both women are from Wichita. Landwehr says the bill was simply in line behind bills related to Medicaid reform. Schodorf says she suspects politics is the reason Landwehr won't give the bill a hearing before her committee.

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2 Injured in RV Crash Leave Kansas 

A Minnesota woman and her 17-year-old son who were injured in a motor home crash that killed five family memebers have returned home from Kansas, where the accident occurred. Overland Park Regional Medical Center said in a statement Tuesday that 46-year-old Pauline Kerber has been released from the hospital and gone home to Jordan, Minnesota. Her son, Adam Kerber, has been transferred to a hospital closer to Jordan. The mother and son were among 13 people injured April 1 when their recreational vehicle hit a guardrail and a concrete bridge rail on Interstate 35, near the town of Williamsburg. Five family members, ages 10 through 25, died in the crash. Several other people who were injured have also been released from hospitals. 

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Pizza Payment Includes Bag of Meth 

A Wichita delivery driver got more than cash when she brought a pizza to a customer at a hotel. Tucked among the bills the man handed over was a plastic bag containing a suspicious-looking white substance. The Wichita Eagle reports the 22-year-old Pizza Hut driver called police after making the discovery late Monday upon leaving the Sunset Hotel. Police tested the substance, and discovered it was methamphetamine. Officers went to the hotel and searched the customer's room, where they reported finding meth and cocaine.  The 35-year-old man was booked into jail pending charges. Police say they don't believe the man realized he had given the Pizza Hut driver drugs along with cash. 

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2 Men Killed in St. Joseph Car Crash

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Police in St. Joseph say speed apparently contributed to an early-morning wreck that left two men dead.  The crash happened shortly before 3am Monday when an SUV went off a road and careened about 150 feet through trees and shrubs before landing in a ravine and hitting a large tree.  The St. Joseph News-Press reports the victims were identified as the driver, 33-year-old William Williams, and a 34-year-old passenger, Robert DeGrote. A second passenger survived.  Investigators were checking if the SUV was the same one that a police supervisor had tried to stop for speeding a short time earlier. The supervisor broke off the chase when the SUV turned onto the road where the crash occurred.

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Pilot Injured in Crop-Duster Crash in SW KS

LAKIN, Kan. (AP) — A Colorado pilot is hospitalized in Wichita after the crop-dusting plane he was flying crashed in southwestern Kansas.  The Kansas Highway Patrol says the 1999 fixed-wing plane went down around 9:30am Monday about two miles east of the Kearny (KER'-nee) County town of Lakin.  The pilot is identified as 58-year-old David Burr, of Montrose, Colorado.  He was taken to Kearny County Hospital and later to Wichita's Via Christi-St. Francis Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition.  The patrol says the aircraft's right wing clipped a support line on a 305-foot cell tower. The plane hit the ground nose-first near U.S. 50 and flipped over.  The Hutchinson News reports that the crop-duster was registered to Tri Rotor Spray and Chemical, in the southwestern Kansas town of Ulysses.

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Contractor Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Disabled Vets Program

KANSAS CITY, KS (AP) — A western Missouri contractor who claimed to be a wounded war hero has pleaded guilty in Kansas to defrauding a federal program that steers business to companies owned by disabled veterans.  The U.S. Attorney's office in Kansas says 70-year-old Warren Parker, of Blue Springs, Missouri, pleaded guilty Monday to five counts including major program fraud and money laundering.  Parker admitted his company, Silver Star Construction LLC, received roughly $7.5 million in government contracts reserved for businesses owned by disabled vets.  Prosecutors say Parker served in the Missouri National Guard from 1963 through 1968, but spent only six months on active duty to attend basic training and his military occupational school.  He could face up to 30 years in prison on the conspiracy charge.

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National Sales of Combines, Tractors Decline in March

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Association of Equipment Manufacturers says retail sales of combines in the U.S. fell by nearly 26 percent in March. A report from the trade group Tuesday said 563 combines were sold in March, compared with 759 in the same month last year. Year-to-date combine sales are down 43.2 percent to 1,319 combines. The association also says tractor sales were down 3.4 percent nationwide in March, with 14,982 sold. A breakdown shows sales of four-wheel-drive tractors were up, while those of two-wheel-drive models fell.

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Illinois Mega Millions Jackpot Winner Identity Still a Mystery

RED BUD, Ill. (AP) _ Holders of two of the winning tickets of last month's record Mega Millions jackpot claimed their shares, but the person with the third ticket bought in southern Illinois still hasn't made a peep. Illinois Lottery spokesman Mike Lang says the person with a winning ticket bought at a convenience store in the 3,700-resident town of Red Bud still hasn't come forward for his or her three-way share of the $656 million jackpot. Illinois Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones says the lottery will work with the Illinois winner of the March 30 drawing to conceal their identity "if there are good and rational reasons'' to do so. Illinois law gives winners one year to claim a jackpot. The Kansas winner claimed a share of the prize from the March 30 drawing last Friday. Two public school teachers and a school administrator did the same Monday in Maryland. All of those winners have opted to remain anonymous. Each ticket is worth more than $218 million before taxes.

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KU Med Center Leader to Retire in June

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A prominent leader of the University of Kansas Medical Center and the School of Medicine will retire in June, more than a year earlier expected.  Barbara Atkinson will step down as executive vice chancellor of the medical center and as executive dean of the School of Medicine on June 30.  In November, Atkinson said she planned to stay on as dean of the medical school until a new dean was chosen, and as executive vice chancellor until December 2013.  Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said Monday that she has named Steven Stites, chairman of internal medicine, acting executive vice chancellor and executive dean, effective immediately.  She had said earlier that she wants to separate the two jobs Atkinson held. A search for a new medical school dean has already begun.

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Rains Boost KS Winter Wheat Condition

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new report says the Kansas winter wheat crop continues to develop two to three weeks ahead of normal, with roughly 6 percent of the crop statewide already headed.  Today's (MON) report from Kansas Agricultural Statistics also says that 79 percent of the wheat is now jointed. That compares with 30 percent last year and a five-year average of 32 percent at this point in the season.  Recent rain has helped improve the wheat's condition. The crop is rated 1 percent very poor, 5 percent poor, 29 percent fair, 52 percent good and 13 percent excellent.  Kansas farmers have also begun planting this season's corn crop, with about 6 percent in the ground statewide.

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Search for Amelia Earhart Heats Up as 75th Anniversary of Disappearance Nears 

HOUSTON (AP) — On the 75th anniversary of the disappearance of Kansas native Amelia Earhart, competition to solve the mystery has reached fever pitch. Two parties with diverging theories hope to lay to rest later this year the issue of what happened July 2, 1937, when Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared. Jon Thompson says he will be the sonar operator this fall, when an expedition headed by David Jourdan and the deep-sea exploration company Nauticos begins a third mission to search near Earhart's destination, Howland Island. They will search depths of 18,000 feet. In July, Ric Gillespie, a longtime Earhart seeker, heads to an island where he believes they may have survived for a short time. He has a photo analyzed by the U.S. State Department that appears to show a landing gear.

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State Rep from Salina Won't Run Again for KS House Seat

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Charlie Roth of Salina won't run for another term in the Kansas House. He has represented the 71st House District since he took over in 2005 for Carol Beggs, who passed away while in office. Republican J.R. Claeys (klayz) announced yesterday (MON) that he intends to run for the seat.

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KS Man Spared Prison in Harper Building Demolition

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A south-central Kansas man who demolished a historic building containing asbestos floor tiles has been sentenced to probation for failing to notify environmental regulators. The U.S. attorney's office says Hugh Allen Barker, of Harper, must also pay a $1,000 fine under the sentence he received yesterday (MON) in federal court in Wichita.  Barker pleaded guilty in January to one felony count, admitting he failed to file required notifications before he began demolishing the Buckeye Building in 2008. The 1885 building was owned by The Balmer Fund, a nonprofit group that restores historic Kansas buildings.  Barker owns Barker Sand and Gravel.

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Weis Suspends KU Football Player for 3 Games

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas coach Charlie Weis has suspended James Sims for the first three games of the 2012 season after the Jayhawks' leading rusher was arrested on suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence.  Weis announced the suspension yesterday (MON), citing a violation of team rules. The Kansas athletics department declined to specify the rules.  But The Kansas City Star reports the 20-year-old junior was arrested by campus police around 2:15am Sunday. The arrest occurred on campus.  Douglas County court records show Sims posted $500 bond and has an April 25 appearance scheduled in municipal court.  Sims started all 12 games in 2011, rushing for 727 yards and nine touchdowns on 182 carries. As a freshman the previous year, the Texas native led the Jayhawks with 742 yards rushing.

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Red Cross Seeks More Blood Donors in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The American Red Cross says its blood donation center in Wichita is running low on some necessary supplies.  The Wichita Eagle reports the center needs about 500 pints of blood daily to meet the needs of the 100 hospitals it serves in Kansas and northern Oklahoma. About 30 of those pints are collected at the center. The rest come from statewide mobile drives.  Wichita's center is running very low on whole blood and platelets. Nationally and locally, Red Cross blood supplies hit a 12-year low last summer. The Wichita center is about 12 percent below its need and is on track to come up 12,000 pints short for the year.  The shortage has led the Wichita center to expand its Saturday hours this month.

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US Ag Secretary Visits K-State Campus, Delivers Landon Lecture

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is heading to Kansas State University to give a lecture about the industry's importance.  Vilsack is scheduled to give a Landon Lecture this (TUE) morning at McCain Auditorium, with a news conference to follow.  Vilsack also planned to attend the afternoon dedication of the U.S. Agriculture Department's newly modernized Center for Grain and Animal Health Research near the Kansas State campus.  The Landon Lecture series is named for former Kansas Governor Alf Landon, the 1936 Republican presidential nominee.  The USDA said Vilsack would use his morning address to discuss the importance of agriculture to the U.S.

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 

 

 

USDA Grant Helps KS Company Convert Cow Manure into Energy


U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (Photo courtesy of USDA)

A utility company in northwest Kansas is building a facility that turns cow manure, grain dust and other waste products into energy -- and today (MON), the U-S Department of Agriculture contributed $5 million to the project. During a stop in Kansas, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the grant for Western Plains Energy in Oakley.

The USDA grant will help Western Plains Energy construct a biogas digester in Oakley. The digester is expected to produce enough biogas to replace 89-percent of the fossil fuel the company currently uses to make ethanol. Ag Secretary Vilsack will be in Manhattan Tuesday to talk about biofuels and agriculture as part of the Landon Lecture series at Kansas State University.

 

KU Basketball Star to Skip Senior Year, Enter NBA Draft


(Photo credit: AP/Mark Humphrey)

If Thomas Robinson had been leaning toward returning to the University of Kansas for a fourth season, head basketball coach Bill Self says he would have discouraged it. Robinson announced today (MON) that he will skip his senior year with the Jayhawks to enter his name into the NBA draft. The only thing Robinson felt he missed in his three years at KU was being part of a national championship team:

Robinson scored 18 points and pulled down 17 rebounds in the national championship game against the University of Kentucky Wildcats in New Orleans last Monday night. The Wildcats defeated the Jayhawks by a score of 67-59 to win the national title.

 

Regional Headlines for Monday, April 9, 2012


Salina Representative Charlie Roth Giving Up Kansas House Seat

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Charlie Roth of Salina has decided against running for another term in the Kansas House. KSAL-AM reports that Roth made the announcement Monday in a message to friends and supporters. Roth has represented the 71st House District since he took over in 2005 for Carol Beggs, who passed away while in office. Roth's message was quickly followed Monday by an announcement from J.R. Claeys that he intends to run for the 71st District seat. Claeys, who's also from Salina, ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for Kansas secretary of state in 2010. Claeys had announced in November he planned to run for the Kansas House from the 69th District.

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KS Governor Reappoints State Fair Board Member

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has reappointed the longtime leader of a Kansas agribusiness group to the State Fair Board. Brownback announced Monday that he named Tom Tunnell, of Topeka, to the 13-member board that oversees the state fair in Hutchinson. Tunnell has been president of the Kansas Grain and Feed Association since 1980. The group represents more than 900 agricultural businesses, and its members include almost all of the state's commercial grain elevators. Tunnell has served on the fair board for eight years. He was its president from 2008 until 2011.

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MO Contractor Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Program

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A western Missouri contractor who claimed to be a wounded war hero has pleaded guilty in Kansas to defrauding a federal program that steers business to companies owned by disabled veterans. The U.S. Attorney's office in Kansas says 70-year-old Warren Parker, of Blue Springs, Missouri, pleaded guilty Monday to five counts including major program fraud and money laundering. Parker admitted his company, Silver Star Construction LLC, received roughly $7.5 million in government contracts reserved for businesses owned by disabled vets. Prosecutors say Parker served in the Missouri National Guard from 1963 through 1968, but spent only six months on active duty to attend basic training and his military occupational school. He could face up to 30 years in prison on the conspiracy charge.

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KUMed Executive Vice Chancellor Announces Retirement Date 

Dr. Barbara Atkinson, executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center and executive dean of the School of Medicine, has announced that she will retire, effective June 30. Under Atkinson's leadership, the size of the KU Medical Center faculty nearly doubled and its Life Sciences Innovation Center was completed. NIH-funded research increased, and the university began its application for designation as a National Cancer Institute. KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little has named Professor Steven Stites, the Peter T. Bohan Professor and Chair of Internal Medicine, to serve as acting executive vice chancellor and executive dean, effective immediately. 

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Fort Hays Professor, Mother-in-Law, Killed in Accident

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Fort Hays University professor and his mother-in-law died in a car accident over the weekend.  The Kansas Highway Patrol says 67-year-old Fred Ruda and 90-year-old Eleanor Sexson, both of Hays, died in the accident Sunday morning near Dodge City.  Ruda was chairman of the Technology Studies Department at Fort Hays State University. Ruda's wife, Sherrill, was hospitalized with serious injuries.  The patrol says a vehicle driven by 19-year-old Braulio De La Cruz-Gonzalez of Dodge City crossed the center line of U.S. Highway 56 about 7 miles west of Dodge City and struck a car driven by Ruda.  De La Cruz-Gonzalez and a 16-year-old passenger in the SUV were treated at a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.  

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Spirit AeroSystems Union to Seek Arbitration

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The technical and engineering union for Spirit AeroSystems says it's preparing to file a lawsuit in an effort to obtain an outside arbitrator.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the union alleges Spirit refuses to honor the grievance process from a dispute over changes to the employee rating system.  The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace represents 900 Spirit AeroSystems engineers and technical workers in its bargaining units.  The union says Spirit is refusing to honor the contractual grievance process. It says that under the process, disputes regarding alleged violations of bargaining agreements typically go to an independent arbitrator for a final judgment.  Spirit AeroSystems spokesman Ken Evans says it would be unfortunate if SPEEA chooses to take legal action and stressed that Spirit "values" its labor unions.  

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New Flint Hills Center to Open Doors to Public

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A center that chronicles the science and cultural history of the Flint Hills is opening its doors to visitors next weekend in Manhattan.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that an opening ceremony is planned for next Saturday at the $24.5 million, 35,000-square-foot Flint Hills Discovery Center.  First-floor exhibits focus on topics such as the origin of the Flint Hills, cowboys and ranching, railroad communities, burning of the prairie, Plains Indians and the prairie ecosystem. Visitors also can visit the theater and watch a 15-minute film about the Flint Hills.  Center spokeswoman Jaclyn Collins says the second floor contains temporary and traveling exhibit spaces. There's also a "family fun zone" with interactive stations, arts and crafts and a toddler area.  The third floor features an outdoor terrace, classrooms and offices.

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Military School Asks Judge to Dismiss Abuse Lawsuit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A military boarding school in Kansas is asking a federal judge to dismiss the latest lawsuit against it. The suit claims a culture of abuse exists at St. John's Military School in Salina.  The lawsuit claims the school allowed higher ranking cadets to beat and otherwise mistreat younger students.  The school is asking a judge to either dismiss the lawsuit or order arbitration of the dispute.  St. John's officials filed several documents in the case on Friday. In one motion, the school asked that an x-ray of a student's broken leg and a photograph of a gagged, blindfolded and bound cadet be removed from public record. St. John's claims the cadet posed for the photograph and complains about media coverage of the photo.

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Natural Gas Company Proposes Oil Pipeline Linking Oklahoma and North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A natural gas company wants to get into the crude oil business by building a 1,300-mile oil pipeline from North Dakota to the nation's biggest storage terminal in central Oklahoma. Tulsa-based Oneok Partners LP said Monday the proposed Bakken Crude Express Pipeline would cost between $1.5 billion and $1.8 billion. It would be able to move 200,000 barrels of crude daily from North Dakota's rich oil patch to Cushing, Oklahoma. Officials say Oneok's plan brings to six the number of pipeline projects proposed to help ship crude out of the rich reservoirs in western North Dakota. Which projects become a reality will depend on getting supplier commitments. Oneok says it's negotiating commitments that could put it on track to begin construction next year and complete a pipeline by 2015.

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Crop-Duster Crashes in SW Kansas; Pilot Injured

LAKIN, Kan. (AP) — A Colorado pilot is hospitalized in Wichita after the crop-dusting plane he was flying crashed in southwestern Kansas. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the 1999 fixed-wing plane went down around 9:30 a.m. Monday about two miles east of the Kearny County town of Lakin. The pilot is identified as 58-year-old David Burr, of Montrose, Colorado. He was taken to Kearny County Hospital and later to Wichita's Via Christi-St. Francis Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition Monday afternoon. The patrol says the aircraft's right wing clipped a support line on a 305-foot cell tower. The plane hit the ground nose-first near U.S. 50 and flipped over. The Hutchinson News reports the crop-duster was registered to Tri Rotor Spray and Chemical, in the southwestern Kansas town of Ulysses.

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Weis Suspends RB Sims for 3 Games

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis has suspended James Sims for the first three games of the 2012 season after the Jayhawks' leading rusher was arrested on suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence. Weis announced the suspension Monday, citing a violation of team rules. The Kansas athletics department declined to specify the rules. The Kansas City Star reports the 20-year-old junior was arrested by campus police around 2:15 a.m. Sunday. Douglas County court records show Sims posted $500 bond and has an April 25 appearance scheduled in municipal court. Sims started all 12 games in 2011, rushing for 727 yards and nine touchdowns on 182 carries. As a freshman the previous year, the Texas native led the Jayhawks with 742 yards rushing.

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Alcohol-Related Traffic Deaths Drop in Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Fewer people are crashing and dying on Kansas roads because of alcohol.  Preliminary data from the Kansas Department of Transportation shows the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths dropped 45 percent from 138 in 2010 to 76 in 2011. Alcohol-related accidents dropped 12 percent to 2,463.  A traffic safety manager for the agency, Pete Bodyk, says it's too early to tell whether the drops are tied to a new law that requires more people to install ignition interlock systems after being convicted of drunken driving. Under the law that took effect in July, even first-time offenders must have the systems. They keep a vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver's breath.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that before 2011, Kansas had been lagging behind the country in reducing alcohol-related fatalities.

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KS SRS Chief Promotes Acting Deputy Secretary

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The head of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services has decided that the agency's acting deputy secretary -- who oversees state hospitals and mental health programs -- will stay in that job.  SRS Secretary Phyllis Gilmore has promoted Gary Haulmark (HALL'-mark) from acting deputy to deputy secretary for the Division of Disability and Behavioral Health Services.  The division oversees hospitals for the mentally ill in Larned, Osawtomie and Kansas City, Kansas, and hospitals for the developmentally disabled in Parsons and Topeka.  It also manages addiction and mental health programs and programs for the physically and developmentally disabled.
Haulmark became acting secretary in January, after serving as the legislative director for SRS. He also served in the Kansas House from 1993 until 1995, representing a Johnson County district.

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Taxpayers Could Pay for Cleaver's Car Wash Loan

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Small Business Administration says taxpayers could wind up on the hook for up to $1.1 million to cover a loan Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver took out to pay for a suburban Kansas City car wash.  The Kansas City Star reports that the agency guaranteed roughly 75 percent of the 2002 Bank of America loan to the firm that owns the business, Cleaver Company LLC.  Bank of America alleged in a lawsuit filed last month that the company — along with Cleaver and his wife, Dianne — owed more than $1.46 million in principal and interest on the loan.  Cleaver's spokeswoman didn't immediately return phone calls from The Associated Press.  But The Star reported that Cleaver has previously blamed a "business dispute" for the loan issues.

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KS Man Spared Prison in Harper Demolition Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A south-central Kansas man who demolished a historic building containing asbestos floor tiles has been sentenced to probation for failing to notify environmental regulators. The U.S. attorney's office says Hugh Allen Barker, of Harper, must also pay a $1,000 fine under the sentence he received Monday in federal court in Wichita. Barker pleaded guilty in January to one felony count, admitting he failed to file required notifications before he began demolishing the Buckeye Building in 2008. The 1885 building was owned by The Balmer Fund, a nonprofit group that restores historic Kansas buildings. Barker owns Barker Sand and Gravel.

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Ministry in Western KS Reaches Truckers

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A small ministry in western Kansas has been catering to truckers and travelers at a Garden City truck stop.  The Pit Stop Praise is located at a truck stop north of a junction on U.S. Highway 50. The half-hour program on Friday evenings usually attracts up to about a dozen participants.  Jay Schoonover, an elder with the Garden City Presbyterian Church, helped spearhead the initiative, which started a year ago. He told The Garden City Telegram that many people pass through needing to talk or some sort of assistance.  Yvonne Battles, of the local Church of the Nazarene, also helped start the program. She said truckers often arrive in Garden City on Fridays and must wait until Monday to depart. She says the service gives them a needed break.

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Kansas State Student Wins Goldwater Prize

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas State University student majoring in chemistry has received the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.  The Manhattan Mercury reports that junior Angela Grommet of Wichita is the university's 68th Goldwater scholar. Another Kansas State student, Sterling Braun, is an honorable mention in the scholarship competition. Braun is a junior from Fort Scott who is studying premedicine and microbiology.  The Goldwater Scholarship is awarded based on potential and intent to pursue careers in math, the natural sciences or engineering. Both Grommet and Braun are involved in cancer research.

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KS Driving School Owner Gets 8 Months in Prison

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — A southwest Kansas driving school owner has been sentenced to eight months in prison for accepting money in exchange for passing grades and commercial driver's license certificates.  The Liberal Leader & Times reports that 58-year-old Lyle Seitter of Liberal also must serve probation and pay restitution. Seitter has pleaded guilty to felony counts of commercial bribery and making a false writing and a misdemeanor count of unlawful use of a driver's license.  Kansas Department of Revenue agents arrested Seitter in December after an undercover operation. Authorities allege a fraudulent passing grade and certificate to bypass Kansas driver's license skills testing were obtained at Seitter's Liberal business, The Driving School.

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Anti-Tax Group Trades Barbs with KS Lawmaker Over Mail

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An anti-tax group and a state Senator from Johnson County are exchanging barbs over how mail from constituents was handled.  Senator Terrie Huntington says in a statement that she called and visited the post office to locate mail her constituents thought they had sent her but she hadn't received. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Huntington says a postal worker told her items were at the station with her name on them but containing the address of Kansans for No Income Tax.  The tax organization's leader Ashley McMillan says the group planned to give the mailings to Huntington. It was all part of an effort to get Republicans like Huntington to support tax legislation they supported.  But McMillan said that before the mail was forwarded to the Fairway Republican, Huntington went looking for it.

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KU Hires Norm Roberts as Assistant Basketball Coach

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has hired University of Florida assistant Norm Roberts, bringing back a familiar face to join Bill Self's staff. The Jayhawks announced the move Monday, saying Roberts will replace Danny Manning, who is now the head coach at Tulsa. Roberts spent six years as the head coach at St. John's, where he went 81-101before he fired in March 2010. Roberts, a 1987 graduate of Queens College in New York City, spent a season working for the Big East Network before joining Billy Donovan's staff at Florida. Roberts has been an assistant under Self at four different schools. He was associate head coach at Kansas (2003-04) and an assistant at Illinois (2000-03), Tulsa (1997-2000) and Oral Roberts (1995-97). His return means he will be coaching his son, Niko, a sophomore guard for the Jayhawks.

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Emerging Technologies Unleash New "Black Gold" Rush in Kansas

MEDICINE LODGE, Kan. (AP) — Prospectors are punching holes across south-central Kansas, a gold rush-style hunt for oil and gas that players say could yield big returns not just for oil producers but also for the state's economy.  In county courthouses across much of Kansas, scores of researchers comb through dusty land records as producers and speculators alike scramble to snap up millions of acres of mineral rights. Leases which just three years ago went for $30 an acre are now fetching $3,000 an acre in drilling hotspots. Awe-struck real estate agents watch incredulously as mineral rights fetch higher prices than the land itself.  Drilling has only just begun. Barber and Harper counties are "ground zero" of an oil boom anticipated to spread north across a wide swath of the central Kansas prairie.

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Critics Still Push Against KS Medicaid Overhaul

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Critics of Governor Sam Brownback's plan to overhaul the Medicaid program in Kansas aren't giving up on derailing a significant piece of it, even if they appear to be running out of time.  The conservative Republican governor's administration is considering bids from private insurance companies to manage the entire $2.9 billion-a-year program.  Brownback will reorganize three major state departments providing social services in July under an executive order that went unchallenged by legislators. When the Legislature returns April 25 from its spring break, it will be in the 74th day of its annual session, out of 90 scheduled.  Yet concerns about the overhaul haven't faded. Many advocates are determined to carve out services for the developmentally disabled and are drawing bipartisan support.

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KU Sees Increase in Grad School Applications from India, China

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas has had a steady increase in the number of graduate applicants from India and China. Thomas Heilke, dean of graduate studies at KU, tells The Lawrence Journal-World that applications for graduate study from India increased 20 percent from this time a year ago. He says similar applications from China went up by 7.4 percent. Charlie Bankart, assistant vice provost for international programs, said China, still is the country that sends the most international students to the University of Kansas. He said India had 270 students apply in 2012, while China had 872. Heilke said the overall increase in graduate international applications — up 9 percent from last year — is right in line with the national average.

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KU Basketball Standout Thomas Robinson Declares for NBA Draft

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas star forward Thomas Robinson is declaring for the NBA draft and will forgo his senior season. Robinson made the formal announcement Monday, with coach Bill Self by his side. Robinson, the first unanimous first-team All-American since Blake Griffin, led the Jayhawks to the national championship game against the University of Kentucky, which the Jayhawks lost 67-59. He averaged 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per game this season and led the nation with 27 double-doubles.

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Vintage Carillon to Ring in Troubled KC Area

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A vintage electronic carillon, known as the Bells of Peace, could soon be ringing in one of Kansas City most troubled areas.  The collection of bells played from a keyboard first rang when the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City was rededicated in 1961.  Now, volunteers hope to install the instrument at St. Therese Little Flower Church, which is in the 64130 ZIP code. The Kansas City Star reported last year that the region had more convicted murderers than any other ZIP code in the state.  The plan is for the carillon to regularly serenade the neighborhood with its 405 "bells," which are actually brass rods. Volunteers have made progress but are still working to coax sound from a few of the rods.

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KS Secretary of State Plans Archery Contest for Kids

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (KOH'-bahk) is planning an archery tournament for children later this month on the grounds of the governor's official residence.  The Ad Astra Archery Tournament is scheduled for April 21 at MacLennan Park in Topeka, which surrounds Cedar Crest, the governor's residence.  The tournament is open to students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Kobach, a hunter, says there will also be other activities, such as fishing in the ponds in the park.  The event also is being sponsored by Fort Hays State University and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. The tournament takes its name from the state motto, "Ad Astra per Aspera," Latin for, "To the Stars Through Difficulty."

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Central Indiana Hometown to Honor Slain Soldier

FRANKFORT, Ind. (AP) — A memorial service is planned in the central Indiana hometown of a soldier who died from injuries he suffered in Afghanistan. The service Tuesday at an American Legion hall in Frankfort will be on the one-year anniversary of when a sniper wounded Army Sergeant Jamie Jarboe. Jarboe died March 21 at the age of 27 after enduring more than 100 surgeries for injuries that left him mostly paralyzed. He was stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas and his funeral was in Topeka. Melissa Jarboe tells The Times of Frankfort that her husband had asked for a separate service in his hometown. She says would like to hug all the Indiana veterans who supported him. Jarboe enlisted in the military after graduating from Frankfort High School in 2003.

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KS Lecturer Immerses Students in Medieval Period

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka college instructor lecturer is taking unusual steps to bring the distant past alive for today's students.  Washburn University says students in Anthony Silvestri's Medieval Experience course wear academic robes to class. They also welcome their teacher in Latin and prepare for the next meeting by reading from a hand-bound codex chained to a library table.  Silvestri says it's all aimed at recreating the scholastic environment of the medieval period. Students debating whether it's lawful to overthrow a king used scripture and the writings of ancient philosophers to make their cases.  He says an education article he read 10 years ago encouraged him to try the new approach. Although it's more time- consuming, he says students will remember it "for the rest of their lives."

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Exhibit Highlights Motorcycle Racing in Dodge City

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Dodge City has a storied place in American history as a 19th century frontier town and a stop on the old Great Western Cattle Trail.  But Dodge was also a center of motorcycle racing in the early 20th century, and the city will celebrate that story in May with an exhibit and series of programs at the Carnegie Center for the Arts.  The Dodge City Daily Globe reports that Carnegie director Summer Bates came up with the project after talking to local officials.  From 1914 to 1916, Dodge City was home of The Dodge City 300, considered the "race of the year" by motorcycle enthusiasts. The sport remained popular for decades afterward.  Items on display will include a several vintage motorcycles, including a 1929 Harley.

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Technology Developments Place KS on Cusp of Oil and Gas Boom


(Photo credit: KSAL-Salina)
MEDICINE LODGE, Kan. (AP) — Prospectors are punching holes across south-central Kansas in the hunt for oil and gas that players say could yield big returns not just for drillers but also for the state's economy. In county courthouses across much of Kansas, scores of researchers comb through dusty land records as producers and speculators alike scramble to snap up millions of acres of mineral rights. Leases which just three years ago went for $30 an acre are now fetching $3,000 an acre in drilling hotspots. Awe-struck real estate agents watch incredulously as mineral rights fetch higher prices than the land itself. Drilling has only just begun. Barber and Harper counties are "ground zero" of an oil boom anticipated to spread north across a wide swath of the central Kansas prairie.

Flint Hills Discovery Center Opening to Public

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A center that chronicles the science and cultural history of the Flint Hills is opening its doors to visitors next weekend in Manhattan. An opening ceremony is planned for next Saturday at the $24.5 million, 35,000-square-foot Flint Hills Discovery Center. First-floor exhibits focus on topics such as the origin of the Flint Hills, cowboys and ranching, railroad communities, burning of the prairie, Plains Indians and the prairie ecosystem. Visitors also can visit the theater and watch a 15-minute film about the Flint Hills. Center spokeswoman Jaclyn Collins says the second floor contains temporary and traveling exhibit spaces. There's also a "family fun zone" with interactive stations, arts and crafts and a toddler area. The third floor features an outdoor terrace, classrooms and offices.

Regional Headlines for Sunday, April 8, 2012


Kansas smoking ban survives constitutional challenge

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has overturned a temporary injunction that had exempted some private clubs from the statewide public smoking ban. In Friday's ruling, the justices ruled against the Downtown Bar and Grill of Tonganoxie. At issue was a provision that allows a certain type of private club to permit smoking as long as the license was obtained before January 1st, 2009. The problem is the Tonganoxie bar didn't switch its license until May 4th, 2009. That's after the Legislature began discussing the ban but well before it won passage and took effect in July 2010. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the bar said the cutoff wasn't fair. But the state argued it was necessary to make sure ordinary bars didn't switch to private clubs to avoid the ban.

 

 

Rebuilding Harveyville United Methodist Church celebrates Easter

HARVEYVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Today's Easter Sunday is especially meaningful for the members of the Harveyville United Methodist Church. The small congregation has voted to rebuild the church destroyed by a February tornado that wrecked much of the town and killed one person. The building was a community landmark for more than 100 years. Church members will gather at the site of the old building for a sunrise service before walking a couple of blocks to Odd Fellows hall that has served as their sanctuary since the storm. Many in the congregation see parallels between the Easter story and the rebirth of their church. Pastor Dennis Irwin said in his Palm Sunday sermon that the tornado was a reminder that the people who make up the church are more important than the building. The new church will have room for a food pantry that is one of the congregation's many outreach programs. It will also have a couple of stained-glass windows salvaged from the old building.

 

 

New Kansas Highway Patrol cars have retro look

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The new Kansas Highway Patrol cars are garnering some double-takes. The Wichita Eagle reports that to mark the 75th anniversary of the law enforcement agency, 14 retro patrol cars are cruising Kansas roads. They sport red bulbs on their roofs, reminiscent of patrol cars from years ago.Trooper Matt Mullen was assigned one of the 2011 Crown Victoria models, painted in the traditional highway patrol colors of gray and blue. He says he's "proud" to drive the car, adding that it reminds him of the ones he used to see when he was a kid. But for kids these days, the car takes some explaining. He says several neighborhood children had to ask their parents about the red bulb on the rooftop.

 

 

Kansas inmate's mother loses lawsuit over suicide

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A jury in Topeka has cleared two Shawnee County jail employees of negligence in the 2002 suicide of an inmate who hanged himself in his cell with a sheet. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the jury deliberated less than 45 minutes Friday before returning the verdict in the lawsuit brought by Cathy Thomas, mother of Anthony Stapleton. The lawsuit noted in part that Stapleton was among six inmates who killed themselves between December 1998 and October 2003 while in the custody of the Shawnee County corrections department. Stapleton had been jailed for 38 days on charges of aggravated robbery when he committed suicide in November 2002. He was under special observation as a suicide risk, and fellow inmates said he talked about killing himself.

 

 

Nebraska farmers urged to watch for wheat diseases

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska farmers are being warned to look out for signs of rust diseases in their wheat fields. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension says stripe rust and leaf rust were found in parts of Kansas last week. Plant pathologist Stephen Wegulo says the Kansas discoveries mean Nebraska farmers are likely to see those diseases in the next two to three weeks. He says Nebraska wheat is about two weeks ahead of normal crop development this year because of the unseasonably high temperatures this winter and spring. More information about scouting wheat fields and treating diseases can be found online at cropwatch.unl.edu.

 

 

Son of former KU assistant walking on to basketball team

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas assistant coach Danny Manning is leaving a presence behind when he leaves Lawrence to become the coach at Tulsa. The Wichita Eagle reports that his son, Evan Manning, will walk on the Jayhawk team. Since his 2011 graduation from Lawrence Free State, the 6-foot-1 guard has spent the past year playing at the New Hampton School, a prep school in New Hampshire. New Hampton coach Peter Hutchins says Manning started at point guard the first half of the season while guard Olivier Hanlan, a Boston College commitment, was injured. Manning was limited to a reserve role when Hanlan returned, but still averaged close to double figures for the season.

 

 

Regional Headlines for Saturday April 7, 2012

 

Brownback Chief of Staff Resigns, Replaced

Governor Sam Brownback's chief of staff is leaving that job, but David Kensinger won't be leaving politics or Kansas behind. Governor Brownback announced Kensinger's departure Friday, along with the promotion of his policy director, Landon Fulmer, to chief of staff. Kensinger says he's joining the campaign of Congressman Mike Pence for governor of Indiana. Kensinger will also serve as chairman of Brownback's policy organization, Road Map Solutions. Landon Fulmer worked for Brownback in the U-S Senate and joined his Topeka staff after Brownback's election as governor. He'll be replaced as policy director by Jon Hummell, currently Brownback's operations manager.

 

 

Kansas Man Found Guilty in Teen's Slaying

A Kansas man has been found guilty of murder in the killing of a 14-year-old cheerleader whose charred body was found at the asphalt plant where he worked. The jury deliberated for less than four hours before returning their verdict Friday in the case of 38-year-old Adam Longoria. The Great Bend man was charged with capital murder in the August 2010 death of Alicia DeBolt. To convict him of capital murder, jurors had to determine Longoria committed criminal sodomy, aggravated criminal sodomy or attempted rape during the killing. The teen disappeared the weekend before she was due to start her freshman year of high school. Text messages show she thought she was going to a party. Her remains were found three days later, burned beyond recognition.

 

 

Lottery Winners in Illinois, Kansas Decide To Remain Anonymous

Throughout southern Illinois' tiny Red Bud, folks are still giddy that someone has one of three winning tickets for a $656 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot in their midst. They just wish they knew who. And observers say the fact that no one has come forward with the Red Bud ticket worth a $218 million share of the jackpot isn't unusual. They even call it wise. Certified financial planner Susan Bradley is founder of the Sudden Money Institute, a resource center for new money recipients including lottery winners. She says a winner should take time to hire financial advisers and an attorney. That's exactly what the winner in Kansas did. Lottery officials there announced Friday that the person decided to remain anonymous.

 

 

 

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